Diablo 3’s Diabolical DRM Debacle

Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a login server failure: 37.

Did you enjoy playing Diablo III yesterday? If you did then you were likely one of the few blessed souls who could actually get the game running. For a vast, multitudinous legion of American Diablo fans however the experience was a Mephistophelean torment of repeatedly beating their heads against the barbed gates of Perdition until they wept and bled profusely. After 12 long years the sheer volume of damned souls clamouring to play Diablo III brought Blizzard’s login servers crashing down like the walls of Jericho quicker than you could say “Liberate tutemae”. Many Diablo III players couldn’t even activate their copy of the game.

The chief architect of all this misery was Diablo III’s diabolical DRM and its insatiable hunger for a constant internet connection to Blizzard’s servers. The very same servers that died choking on their own guts as soon as an army of players, dwarfing that of Hell itself, swarmed all over them like proverbial locusts. Without this connection Diablo III’s DRM – designed to prevent duping and other sins in preparation for Diablo III’s forthcoming real-money auction house – kept the masses at bay with sorcerous chants of infernal gibberish like “The request has timed out (ERROR 3006)”. Some players who did manage to get in – presumably due to the intercession of a higher power – reported cases of randomly getting kicked from the game completely and even instances of lag in single-player.

Online lag in a single-player game. Truly this is the End of Days.

You needn’t be St John of Patmos to predict server problems at the launch of a big game. Every World of Warcraft expansion has been met with similar wailing and gnashing of teeth, which just goes to show that 8 years of experience running the most successful MMO ever doesn’t mean squat when the shit hits the fan. To their credit Blizzard responded to this calamity about as quickly as they reasonably could by performing emergency maintenance on all Diablo III servers, patching the living Hell out of the game and even taking down Battle.net itself for a bout of fixing and tinkering. Despite all this a few fortunate players still managed to complete the game within 7 hours of its official release. Maybe they had the foresight to sacrifice a black goat at a crossroads at midnight beforehand.

All in all it’s hardly the most auspicious of launches. Blizzard claims to have fixed most of the worst issues although the damage has already been done with many disgruntled players venting their self-righteous fury on Metacritic via some good old-fashioned review-bombing. I’m usually the first in line to throw rocks at such people yet in this case I can’t say I really blame them. Players who brought legitimate copies of the game and jumped through all the hoops they were asked to found themselves unable to play it at all – not even in single-player – for reasons entirely out of their control. Control incidentally being what Blizzard wants over in-game real-money transactions and the primary reason they implemented this ghastly DRM in the first place. When DRM prevents your paying customers playing a game they legally purchased then that DRM has failed, at best. At worst it’s anti-consumer.

One hopes this little tribulation has reminded Blizzard the customer is God, and we all know you can’t serve both God and Mammon.


About Matt

Matt is the irresponsible degenerate behind bitscreed.com and the sarcastic writer, editor, director, presenter and tea boy of Pixel Burn.